Hello Project Ezra! I pray you are all doing well. This week our suggested reading is Psalm 62. I’ve decided to key in on a few verses in particular, those which talk about God as our savior, and which remind us that our only hope is in Him. I've used that as a theme, and expanded on it, talking about why that is true, and what that means. There was a time in our country's history when if you told someone that they needed God to save them, there was at least a general idea of what that might mean. But not anymore, and I'm sure the same is true for many outside the states. Our culture has become so relativistic and Biblically illiterate that often, when having a spiritual conversation with someone, you will have to go back to the most basic points of what truth is and what the word God means, because there simply isn't the necessary foundation there to build on. So hopefully this outline will help to lay some of that foundation, and at least plant a gospel seed, if nothing else.
We have our next big event, First John on July Fourth, coming up in a few weeks. Now is the time to let others know and invite people to join you. Start looking for outreach opportunities in your area, places and times where people will be gathering and where you might have an opportunity to share the gospel through scripture reading. I know in my area there are almost too many to choose from, in communities all around me. It’s a good problem to have! Few holidays draw people out like the Fourth, at least here in the US. But even if you are not in the States (as many of our members are not), there will still be good opportunities in your area. And 1 John is a great book to divide up, since the chapters are relatively short, and easy for even those very new to public scripture reading. I’ll try to have the event up on Facebook in a couple days, so be looking for it.
All for His glory,
INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND PROJECT EZRA
READ PSALM 62
The writer of this Psalm says his only hope is in God
But what does that really mean?
If you would call yourself an atheist, hoping in God may not mean anything at all to you. It may just sound like foolishness
If you have some type of a religious background, you’ll likely have some idea of what it might mean.
But your ideas will likely be different from the other “religious” people who are listening
In order to really understand what it means to say our only hope is in God, and whether there is any reason to do so, you need to understand a couple of things
You need to understand something about who God is
You need to understand some things about who we are
First, there is such thing as truth, and God is true
Though many people, if not most in our culture, argue that all truth is relative, some things really are true
In fact, the moment you say that truth is relative to the person, you are making a truth claim, and contradicting yourself
You can't even argue against truth without assuming one side is right and the other side is wrong
The reason people want to deny absolute trust is simply to escape person responsibility for their actions
But we all know that some things are true, and some things are false, whether we want to admit it or not
The same is true when we talk about God. He is either real, or He is not, and that reality is vital
The Bible tells us there is a real God, and that He has revealed Himself
The Christian God is not simply a belief that we choose or reject because of the potential of personal benefit
The God of the Bible is not one God among many, one choice that you can take along with other choices, to mix and match as you please
Scripture says that God alone is the creator of all that exists. All other so-called gods are false
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens. (Psalm 96:5, ESV)
It also tells us that God created all that is by Himself. In Isaiah 44 He says:
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself, (Isaiah 44:24, ESV)
The Bible tells us He has revealed Himself, in His word, to His creation, and the evidence shows us that is true (SEE BELOW FOR MORE)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV)
knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21, ESV)
So there is truth, God is real, He has revealed Himself, and He alone is creator and Lord
Since God created us, we are His. But since we have broken His law, we are also guilty before Him
The Bible tells us that we are guilty before God, and worthy of His just punishment
Many people will point out that God is love, and He is. That is something true, something He has revealed about Himself in His word (1 John 4:8)
But just as we have different aspects to our character, so does God. And one of those aspects is justice
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, ESV)
Many times God speaks of just punishment for crimes. In fact, our legal system takes many of its principles from Biblical principles of justice
But regardless of the way you look in the light of human law, in light of God’s law you are guilty
God’s standard is perfection, and Jesus said to be perfect, as His heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). None of us can come close to that standard.
Take a moment to look into the mirror of God’s law, so you can see yourself in truth
GO THROUGH THE LAW TO BRING CONVICTION OF SIN
But God will not only convict us of sin, but see that justice is satisfied for that sin.
I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. (Ecclesiastes 3:17, ESV)
Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4, ESV)
but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, (Romans 2:8-9, ESV)
So we see that God is just, we are guilty before His law, and He would be perfectly justified in pouring out His wrath on us.
And there is no escape. God is our lawgiver and judge. He has the power to destroy. But, He also has the power to save (James 4:12)
We see that God is a God of mercy and love, and in that mercy and love we can find hope
God is a merciful and loving God, and through His grace we may be saved
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— (Ephesians 2:4-5, ESV)
Mercy means not receiving the punishment we justly deserve. In this case that means escape from God’s wrath, and from Hell.
But God, because of His perfect nature, must see justice satisfied. So our sin had to be punished.
God satisfied justice by pouring out wrath upon His own son, on a Roman cross.
Jesus became our propitiation. That means that by the offering of His own blood, God’s wrath was turned away from those who would believe in Him
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10, ESV)
So this is our hope, and the reason we can only find hope in God.
God is our creator, and God is our judge
We are guilty before Him and deserving of His justice and wrath.
But through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, justice has been satisfied, and we can go free
Our sin can be washed clean, not by our own goodness, but by the goodness of another, our Lord Jesus Christ
So today, while God has given you time, turn that hope into a reality
Turn from your sins, and turn to Christ.
Only in Jesus Christ, the God-Man, the perfect sacrifice for sin and the perfect advocate before God the Father, can we have peace with God.
I pray today that you too will have the peace that passes all understanding, as the Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, and that God will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.
A GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF WHY WE SHOULD BELIVE THE BIBLE IS TRUE, AND HOW WE CAN PRESENT THAT, IS IMPORTANT. BELOW ARE A COUPLE OF GOOD RESOURCES THAT WILL HELP YOU PREPARE TO DISCUSS THIS ISSUE.
The Bible, Has God Spoken? By Greg Koukl
Why I Choose to Believe the Bible By Dr. Voddie Bauchum